How does the hepatitis virus spread?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Hepatitis A is spread through food or water contaminated by feces from a person who has the virus. You can get hepatitis A by eating food prepared by an infected person. You can also get the disease by drinking contaminated water in places with poor sanitary conditions.

Hepatitis B spreads through contact with an infected person's blood, semen, or other body fluids. You can get hepatitis B by having sex with an infected person without a condom, sharing drug needles, or sharing a toothbrush or razor with an infected person. A woman with hepatitis B can give the virus to her baby at birth.

Hepatitis C spreads through contact with an infected person's blood. You can get hepatitis C by sharing drug needles or being pricked with a needle that has infected blood on it.

This information is based on source information from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

There are multiple hepatitis viruses. Most of them are spread via bodily fluids, especially blood, so they can be spread by direct contact, blood transfusions (although now rarely so), sexual contact, sharing of intravenous needles, or even breastfeeding. Two hepatitis viruses, hepatitis A and E, are spread by the fecal-oral route and thus can be spread by direct contact, consumption of raw food, or drinking of contaminated water.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.